Modern African Art : A Basic Reading ListMajor Group Exhibitions
Africa now: Jean Pigozzi Collection; [exhibition, Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderna, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, September 17-October 17, 1991; Groninger Museum, Groningen, the Netherlands, December 7, 1991-February 9, 1992; Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico, February 20-June 7, 1992] / curated by André Magnin]. [Groningen]: Groninger Museum: Novib, 1991. 224pp. illus. (color), bibliog. Text in English and Dutch. N7391.65.A25 1991 AFA. OCLC 25863629.
"Africa Now" is "Magiciens de la Terre" revisited, the difference being that the gaze is turned exclusively on Africa. Swiss collector Jean Pigozzi saw the "Magiciens" exhibition, got hooked, as he puts it, and decided then and there to collect contemporary African art. With the help of André Magnin, he did just that. This exhibition is the result.
The premise remains dubiously the same: unspoiled, original artists, sprung from their cultures. It is noteworthy that none of the fifteen artists in "Africa Now" are formally taught, though a few have been associated with informal workshops. The fifteen are: Bodys Isek Kingelez (Congo (Democratic Republic)), Seni Awa Camara (Senegal), Agbagli Kossi (Togo), Esther Mahlangu (South Africa), Chéri Samba (Congo (Democratic Republic)), Efiaimbelo (Madagascar), Cheïk Ledy (Congo (Democratic Republic)), Twins Seven Seven (Nigeria), John Fundi (Mozambique), Ekong Emmanuel Ekefrey (Nigeria), Cyprien Tokoudagba (Bénin), Jean-Baptiste Ngnetschopa (Cameroon), François Thango (Congo Brazzaville), Moke (Congo (Democratic Republic)) and Frédéric Bruly Bouabré (Côte d'Ivoire).
Several introductory essays try to establish some definitions and parameters of contemporary African art. Among the contributors are André Magnin, the curator; Jan Hoet, director of Documenta; Jean-Hubert Martin, curator of "Magiciens"; Gunter Péus, German collector of contemporary African art; Yaya Savané, Ivoirian museum specialist; and Jacques Soulillou, art critic.
Reviewed by David Frankel [Africa hoy: obras de la contemporary African art collection] in African arts (Los Angeles) 25 (4): 34, 104, October 1992. The exhibition "Out of Africa," also of the Jean Pigozzi collection held at the Saatchi Gallery, London, in l992, was reviewed by Richard Dyer in Third text (London) 22: 111-112, spring 1993; and by Clémentine Deliss, "White mischief," Frieze no. 7: 12-15, November-December 1992.
Reviewed by Dora Ashton, "Zwei Hühner und eine Flasche Gin: Besprechung der Wanderausstellung 'Africa Hoy' (Las Palmas, 1991)," Kunstforum international (Mainz, Germany) Bd. 122, 1993, pp. 228-231.
Africus: Johannesburg Biennale, 20 February-30 April 1995. Johannesburg: Transitional Metropolitan Council, . 304pp. illus. (pt. color). bibl. refs. N6488.S6J64 1995 AFA. OCLC 32915039.
The first Johannesburg Biennale, expressing the spirit of the New South Africa, was an international celebration and affirmation of the openness and the possibilities of a new era in that formerly oppressed land. Curators from a variety of Third World and First World nations were invited to select artists to participate in this exhibition. South African artists, naturally, predominated. In this catalog, there are brief entries on various South African arts and cultural centers, followed by individual country contributions. Also included are invited essays by international contributors, among whom are Rasheed Araeen, Arthur Danto, Rashid Diab, Jean-Hubert Martin, Thomas McEvilley, Charles Merewether, and Apinan Poshyananda.
Reviewed by Ruth Rosengarten in Art news (New York) 94 (5): 168, May 1995; by Benita Munitz, "60 exhibitors at the art show that nearly didn't make it," Cape times (Cape Town) March 27, 1995, page 11.
Agathe, Joanna. Tagewerke: Bilder zur Arbeit in Afrika = All in a day's work: images of work in Africa. Frankfurt am Main: Museum für Völkerkunde, Galerie 37, 1999. 80pp. illus. (pt. color), bibliog. (pp. 74-75). N8219.L2 A35 1999 AFA. OCLC 46794224.
Africa at work is the theme of this 1999 exhibition of paintings and works on paper drawn from the impressively broad collection of the Museum für Völkerkunde in Frankfurt. Artists from South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Ghana (El Anatsui, the sole sculptor) are represented. Daily work, city work, farm work, pastoral work, out of work, illicit work, respite from work, even children's work as depicted here present a kaleidoscope of today's African reality.
Banque centrale des etats de l'Afrique de l'ouest. BCEAO: collection d'art contemporain / introduction by Ousmane Sow Huchard. Dakar: BCEAO, . 193pp. chiefly color illus. qN7398.B36 1993 AFA. OCLC 40984885.
The BCEAO collection of modern art presents artists from member states: Bénin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Sénégal, and Togo. The bank's headquarters in Dakar and its principal agencies in the other capitals each have created corporate art collections to showcase the work of local artists. This catalog of the collections, published on the thirtieth anniversary of the bank's establishment, features more than 150 art works, mainly paintings. The majority are dated 1990 to 1992. A complete list of the artists is included.
Contemporary African artists: changing tradition: El Anatsui, Youssouf Bath, Ablade Glover, Tapfuma Gutsa, Rosemary Karuga, Souleymane Keita, Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Henry Munyaradzi, Bruce Onobrakpeya / introduction by Kinshasha Holman Conwill; foreword by Wole Soyinka. New York: Studio Museum in Harlem, 1990. 148pp. illus. N7380.C7615 1990 AFA. OCLC 21243227.
Nine artists from six African countries were selected for this 1990 traveling exhibition by curator Grace Stanislaus. They were chosen as representing some of the finest artistic expressions in Africa today, a sampling of excellence rather than a comprehensive statement. The nine were El Anatsui (Ghana), Youssouf Bath (Côte d'Ivoire), Ablade Glover (Ghana), Tapfuma Gutsa (Zimbabwe), Rosemary Karuga (Kenya), Souleymane Keita (Senegal), Nicholas Mukomberanwa (Zimbabwe), Henry Munyaradzi (Zimbabwe), and Bruce Onobrakpeya (Nigeria). For each artist, Stanislaus provides biographical data and commentary on their work based on interviews. Several works of each are illustrated. She also offers an overview essay on the central theme of the exhibition -- "changing traditions" -- in which she argues that the emergence of an "individual aesthetic" is the key to understanding modern artistic expression in Africa. Dele Jegede also contributes an essay on the same general theme.
Reviewed by Salah M. Hassan in African arts (Los Angeles) 25 (1): 36-37, 95-97, 100, January 1992. Exhibition reviewed by Kate Ezra in African arts (Los Angeles) 23 (4): 79-80, October 1990; by Michael Brenson, "Contemporary works from Africa," New York times (New York) January 19, 1990; by Emma Ejiogu, "African art in transition," African commentary (Amherst) 2 (4 and 5): 67-68, May 1990; by Peter Plagens, "Africa meets the west: Three new exhibitions capture the spirit and stuggle of black artists on two continents," Newsweek (New York) February 19, 1990, pp. 68-69; by Syne Chikove, "Top artists in `Changing Traditions,'" The artist (Harare) 1 (6): 21, July/August 1990; Ben Tomolojo, "Contemporary African art... from home to Harlem," Guardian (Lagos) March 17, 1990, page 13. The Washington, DC installation was reviewed by Jo Ann Lewis, "Out of Africa at WPA, tradition & an individual twist," Washington post (Washington, DC) September 12, 1991.
Dakar 1992; Biennale Internationale des Arts. Paris: Beaux-Arts Magazine, 1992. 65pp. illus. (pt. color). N5090.D13B58 1992 AFA. OCLC 28362329.
Dak'Art 92, as this second international biennale of the arts was named, took place in Dakar in December 1992. (The first biennale in 1990 was devoted to the literary arts). Although Dak'Art 92 invited artists from around the world, Senegal as host country was given the lion's share of space with forty-two artists. Other countries were represented with one or two artists. All in all, it offered a window on the kinds of art being produced in Senegal and elsewhere in 1992. International exhibitions of this sort are always highly charged affairs, and Dak'Art 92 was no exception, according to Clémentine Deliss, who reviewed it: "Dak'Art 92: where internationalism falls apart," African arts (Los Angeles) 26 (3): 18, 20, 23, 84-85, July 1993. The same review appeared later in Third text (London) no. 23, summer 1993.
Dak'art 96: biennale de l'art Africain contemporain. Paris: [Cimaise], . 99pp. illus. (color), map. Text in English and French. Illustration captions in French. N5090.D13D35 1996 AFA. OCLC 38844467.
Dak'Art 96, held in Dakar in May 9-15, 1996, was a constellation of six exhibitions. The centerpiece was an international exhibition of African artists representing seventeen countries, weighted toward the francophone contingent. The second showcased forty-five Senegalese artists, and the third, designers and interior decorators, mainly from francophone West Africa. The fourth exhibition paid tribute to Senegalese tapestries and textile arts from Les Manufactures sénégalaises des arts décoratifs. And the fifth was devoted to young artists, some school-aged. Finally, in the individual exhibition category, five artists representing north, south, east, west, and central Africa brought a truly Pan-African dimension to the whole proceedings. The five were Ezrom Legae (South Africa), Pascale Marthine Tayou (Cameroon), Zerhun Yetmgeta (Ethiopia), Mohamed Kacimi (Morocco), and Moustapha Dimé (Sénégal).
Dak'Art 98: biennale de l'art africain contemporain. Paris: [s.n., 1998]. 116pp. illus. (color). Cimaise 45 (253) avril 1998. Text in French and English. N5090.D13D35 1998 AFA. OCLC 39886860.
Dak'Art 98, like its immediate predecessor in 1996, was a series of five official exhibitions, which spawned numerous art happenings outside the established venues in the spirit of the refusés. This catalog celebrates only the official events, the centerpiece of which is the international salon featuring thirty-seven artists from across the continent: Jane Alexander, Kevin Brand, Pat Mautloa, Sam Nhlegegtwa, Ndou Owen, Freddy Ramabulana, Mthethwa Zwelethu (South Africa); Fernando Alvim (Angola); Cyprien Toukoudagba, Dominique Zinkpe (Bénin);Saïdou Beyson Zoungrana (Burkina Faso); Godfried Kadjo, Salifou Lindoun, Joseph Francis Sumegne, Gaspard Vincent Tatang, Barthélémy Toguo (Cameroon); Carlos Tchale Figueira (Cape Verde); Bodys Isek Kingelez; Cheri Samba Wa Mbimba (Democratic Republic of the Congo); Aboudramane Doumbouya; Babéhi Rachèle Crasso; Ananias Léki Dago; Thébéna Dagnogo; Tamessir Dia; Mcline Hien; Edith Taho (Côte d'Ivoire); Godfried Donkor (Ghana); Oladele Ajiboye Bamgboye (Nigeria); Serigne Mbaye Camara; El Hadji Mansour Ciss; Viyé Diba; Ibrahim Kebe; Amadou Leye; Ousmane Ndiaye Dago (Sénégal); Khaled Ben Slimane; Fatma Charfi M'Seddi (Tunisia); Luis Meque (Zimbabwe).
The second exhibition was a textile salon featuring seven Senegalese designers: Aftibas; Aïssa Dione; Amadou Diouma Diouf; Claire Kane; Serigne Ndiaye; Oumou Sy; Mariam Traore. The third exhibition also showcased African design of furniture and decorative arts: Yamo (Mohammed Yahyaoui) (Algeria); Alassane Drabo (Burkina Faso); Isa Diabate, César Dogbo (Côte d'Ivoire); Sylvia Andrianaivo, Hans Ranaivoson Tsikitsiky, Claudine Rakotonena (Madagascar); Cheick Diallo (Mali); Annie Jouga, Pape Youssou Ndiaye, Babacar Sedikh Traore (Sénégal); Kossi Assou (Togo). It also included Senegalese designers Serigne Mbaye Camara, Sawalo Cisse, Mamadou Fall Dabo, Ramatoulaye Sallsao Diagne, Viyé Diba, Aïssa Dione, Cheikh Diouf, Ibou Diouf, Abdoulaye Ndoye, Moussa Sakho, Alassane Sarr, and Moussa Tine. The Salon of Art Education offered an opportunity for child artists to get involved and as a means of fostering art education for the young.
In the individual exhibition section, there were five invited artists, representing South Africa (Willie Bester); Angola (António Olé); Tunisia (Ahmed Hajeri); Cuba (Kcho); and the United States (Carrie Mae Weems).
Dak’Art 1998, the exhibition, was reviewed by Katya García-Antón, “DAK’ART 98,” Third text: Third World perspectives on contemporary art and culture (London) 44, autumn 1998, pages 87-92.
Gendered visions: the art of contemporary Africana women artists / edited by Salah Hassan. Africa World Press, 1997. ISBN 0-86543-619-3.
This exhibition features six women artists whose work critiques gender or women's representation in art. The six artists are: Elsabeth T. Atnafu (Ethiopia), Xenobia Bailey, Renée Cox, Angèle Etoundi Essamba (Cameroon), Houria Niati (Algeria), and Etiyé Dimma Poulsen (Ethiopia).
Il sud del mondo: l'altra arte contemporanea = The South of the world: the other contemporary art; exhibition organized by the Galleria civica d'arte contemporanea "Francesco Pizzo," Marsala, 14 February-14 April 1991]. Milano: Mazzotta, 1991. xxxviii, 395pp. illus. (pt. color). Text in Italian and English. N7414.S943 1991 AFA. OCLC 24674673.
This exhibition is an attempt to recognize and celebrate art from the South (as in North-South) a.k.a. the Third World. It is a harbinger of the New Internationalism in the visual arts, which takes the premise that the creative vitality emerging in these countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America is well worth looking at. Fifty African artists were selected from across the continent and abroad, representing all media, styles and educational backgrounds. See the "Africa" section (pp. 177-229; pp. 362-371). The selections were made by Pierre Gaudibert for sub-Saharan Africa and Wijdan Ali for Islamic North Africa -- both of whom contribute short essays.
The exhibition and catalog are critiqued by Nikos Papastergiadis, "The South in the North," Third text; Third World perspectives on contemporary art and culture (London) 14: 43-52, spring 1991. His critique deals with some of the `North' vs. `South' issues which the exhibition and the catalog raise.
Image and form: prints, drawings and sculpture from southern Africa and Nigeria / edited by John Picton. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1997. 80pp. illus. (pt. color). N7391.7.I43 1997 AFA. OCLC 37869220.
The exhibition "Images and Form," curated by Robert Loder, Lisa Muncke and John Picton, drew the spotlight to artists from Nigeria and South Africa (including a group from Botswana and a single artists from Mozambique). The selection was eclectic and limited to prints, drawings and sculpture, primarily from the collection of Robert Loder. The catalog Image and form is a collection of short essays introduced by Loder, the impresario of art workshops in southern Africa. John Picton in the lead essay alludes to the complexities of twentieth-century African art, its resistance to categorization, its stigmatization by Western attitudes of Primitivism, authenticity, and privileging material culture over art. Picton discusses the five artists from Nigeria (an area he knows well) -- Bruce Onobrakpeya, Tayo Quaye, Segun Faleye, Nike Davies, and Uzo Egonu. Excerpts from Bruce Onobrakpeya's published books are included.
Southern Africa is represented in the catalog with six essays, most previously published: Theo R. Schneider on Jackson Hlungwane; David Koloane on the plight of black artists in South Africa (even in the New South Africa); Elizabeth Rankin on Rorke's Drift artists; Marion Arnold on Pippa Skotnes and her San-inspired art; Mark Attwood on the Kuru Art Project (Botswana); and Rachel Chapple on Mozambican ceramic sculptor Reinata Sadhimba. Biodata is included on all the artists in the exhibition.
Inside story: African art of our time / edited by Yukiya Kawaguchi. [Tokyo, Japan]: The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan Association of Art Museums, c1995. 199pp. illus. (color), map (color), bibliog. (page 199). Text in Japanese and English. N7380.5.I57 1995 AFA. OCLC 38841033.
Japan meets Africa in an exploratory exhibition "An Inside Story: African Art of Our Time," curated by Yukiya Kawaguchi, at the Setagawa Art Museum. (The exhibition held at the Setagawa Art Museum, Tokyo, September 23-November 19, 1995 and five other Japanese art museums through October 1996.) The curatorial challenge was how to put together a representative sample of modern African art for the first major exhibition of its kind in Japan. Initially, the territory was reduced to West Central Africa where several of the better known schools and movements were featured. In the democratic spirit of equality, both schooled and self-taught artists were included. The line-up thus included the Congolese precursors Albert Lubaki and Tsheyla Ntendu; the Lumbumbashi school; Poto-Poto; Mbari Mbayo, Oshogbo; Ecole de Dakar; Vohou Vohou (Côte d'Ivoire); popular paintings of Kinshasa; Senegalese glass paintings; barbershop signs; street arts; and a large section called "individualizing works." These are works, mainly of trained artists, who are better known for originality than conformity to a particular style or "school." Included here are artists such as Issa Samb, Moustapha Dimé, Fodé Camara, Marianne Diagne-Chanel, Abdoulaye Konaté, Kra N'Guessan, Ouattara, Zephirin Aboudramane, Anapa, Romuald Hazoumé, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Ablade Glover, El Anatsui, Kwesi Owusu-Ankomah, Sunday Jack Akpan, Osi Audu, Olu Oguibe, Sokari Douglas Camp. All 143 artworks are handsomely illustrated in matt-finish color, and biodata on artists is included.
Several essays offer different perspectives: Yukya Kawaguchi, an overview of modern African art; Dele Jegede, an overview of art in post-colonial Africa; Abdou Sylla, on Senegalese modern art; Ulli Beier, on Mbari Mbayo, Oshogbo; Kra N'Guessan, on Vohou Vohou; Hideaki Furukawa, on Moustapha Dimé; Hiroto Kanno and Mieko Yoshihara, each giving separate impressions of modern African art; Hiroyuki Suzuki, on street art in Abidjan; and Yukiya Kawaguchi, on the myth of authenticity.
Jean Pigozzi contemporary African art collection at the Saatchi Collection; [exhibition, 1991, curated by André Magnin with the assistance of Jean-Michel Rousset]. London: Saatchi collection, . pp. illus. N7391.65.J43 1992 AFA. OCLC 29642975.
Jean Pigozzi is widely criticized for seeking out only untrained artists from Africa. Unfazed by critics, he persists in collecting and exhibiting what pleases him with the freedom that money allows. Saatchi Gallery, London, is the venue for this 1991 outing of the Pigozzi stable of favorites: Frédéric Bruly Bouabré (Côte d'Ivoire), Efiaimbelo (Madagascar), John Goba (Sierra Leone), Emile Yebo Guebehi (Côte d'Ivoire), Romuald Hazoumé (Bénin), Bodys Isek Kingelez (Congo (Democratic Republic)), Cheïk Ledy (Congo (Democratic Republic)), Georges Lilanga di Nyama (Tanzania), Esther Mahlangu (South Africa), Moké (Congo (Democratic Republic)), and Cyprien Tokoudagbe (Bénin).
Exhibition reviewed by Richard Dyer in Third text: Third World perspectives on contemporary art and culture (London) 22: 111-112, spring 1993; by Andrew Graham-Dixon, "Jungle fever: international socialite "Johnny" Pigozzi collects houses, celebrities, kitsch -- and now, with characteristic enthusiasm, African art," Vogue (Paris) October 1992, pp. 209-212; by Richard Cork, "Visions of Africa: ancient & modern," Times (London) November 6, 1992, page 39; by Jan Burney, "Scouting for toys," New statesman society (London) 5: 27, 29, November 13, 1992. Also reviewed: "Contemporary art," West Africa (London) no. 3921: 1945, November 9-15, 1992.
For other commentary, see Clémentine Deliss, "White mischief," Frieze (London) no. 7: 12-15, November-December 1992.
Kunst aus Afrika heute: Meisterwerke der Sammlung Péus, Hamburg: Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, September 1993. Aachen: Das Forum, 1993. 99pp. illus. (pt. color). N7391.65.K85 1993 AFA. OCLC 31134785.
Gunter Péus, a journalist in Africa since the 1960s, began collecting contemporary African art early on during his travels around the continent. His tastes tend toward the unschooled artists, such as Shona sculptors, Makonde wood sculptors, Tingatinga painters, Oshogbo artists, and a variety of self-taught painters from Ghana, Zambia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Lumière noire: art contemporain / Centre d'art de Tanlay. Yonne, France: Château de Tanlay-Yonne, 1997. 61, pp. illus. (pt. color). qN7380.5.L86 1997 AFA. OCLC 39274783.
The French connection underwrote this 1997 exhibition in Yonne, France, featuring eleven African artists: Calixte Dakpogan (Bénin); Samuel Fosso (Cameroon-Central African Republic); Gédéon (Ethiopia); Géra (Ethiopia); Romuald Hazoumé (Bénin); Cheik Ledy (Congo); Mallo Sow (Sénégal); Pascale Marthine Tayou (Cameroon); Cyprien Tokoudagba (Bénin); Kélétigui Touré (Mali). An eclectic all male cast is reflected in the equally eclectic selection of art, from underglass paintings and studio portrait photography to sculptures of récuperation and installations to talismanic drawings and Vodou shrine murals. Short essays on each artist are accompanied by illustrations of several works.
Mit Pinsel und Meissel: zeitgenössische afrikanische Kunst; [exhibition, Museum für Völkerkunde, Frankfurt am Main, April 26, 1991-April 19, 1992] / text by Johanna Agthe and Christine Mundt. Frankfurt am Main: Museum für Volkerkunde, 1991. 79pp. illus. (pt. color), map, bibliog. (Interim II). N7380.5.M67 1991 AFA. OCLC 24095003.
Twenty-eight artists from seven countries, whose work is represented in the growing permanent collection of contemporary African art at the Museum für Völkerkunde, Frankfurt, were selected for an exhibition there. This catalog accompanying the exhibition provides a sampling and an overview of the collection with short essays by Johanna Agthe and Christina Mundt on recent art developments in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Congo (Democratic Republic), Senegal and East Africa (Kenya and Uganda).
In her introduction ("Zeitgenössische afrikanische Kunst-Zur Einführung," pp. 7-10), Agthe writes of the uneasy emergence of modern African art, which has been greeted with skepticism, condescension, disinterest, or dismissal. But gradually, this wall of resistance is being chipped away.
An abbreviated 22-page English edition of this book was published under the title: Signs of the time: new art from Africa (Frankfurt am Main: Museum für Völkerkunde, 1991).
Neue Kunst aus Afrika / Haus der Kulturen der Welt; [Projektleitung, Konzeption, Katalog, Alfons Hug; wissenschaftliche Mitarbeit, Annette Hulek; Ubersetzungen, Lena Maltz, Cornelia Kost, Hildegard Kurt]. Heidelberg: Edition Braus, c1996. 208pp. : chiefly illus. (chiefly col.) ; 31 cm. OCLC 36488479. qN7398.N48 1996X AFA.
New art from Africa was the theme of this 1996 exhibition at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, curated by Alfons Hug. Most of the artists selected are by now not so new. Rather they are the ones who are collected by a handful of collectors, eager to enter them in the international exhibition circuit. Jean Pigozzi, Jean-Marc Patras, and Gunter Péus are the most prominent among the lenders. Thus, there is deja vu in the list of featured artists: Aboudramane, Akinbode Akinbiyi, Aniedi Okon Akpan, Sunday Jack Akpan, Dossou Amidou, E. O. Anang, Berthiers, Emmanuel Botala Tala, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Tshyela Ntendu, Romuald Hazoumé, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Agbagli Kossi, Jems Robert Kokobi, Kane Kwei, Albert Lubaki, Magret Majo, Kivuthi Mbuno, Middle Art, Moké, Jean Baptiste Nghetchopa, Richard Onyango, Joel Oswaggo, Rainbow Arts, Chéri Samba, Kofi Setordji, Twins Seven Seven, Bouna Medoune Seye, Pascale Marthine Tayou, and Cyprien Tokoudagba.
Introductory essays are provided by Alfons Hug, Lydia Haustein, Ery Camara, Akinbode Akinbuyi, Jean-Hubert Martin, Jacques Soubillou, Hassan Musa, and Ulli Beier.
Paris connections: African and Caribbean artists in Paris / edited by Asake Bomani and Belvie Rooks. San Francisco: Q.E.D. Press, 1992. 56pp. illus. (color), bibliog. Text in English and French. N7380.P37 1992X AFA. OCLC 25551638.
African artists in the Diaspora, and in Paris in particular, are still marginalized from the mainstream art world. To the extent that they are regarded at all, it is with the expectation that their art will be true to their ethnicity, their African cultural background, to its essential "African-ness." Many African artists abroad and at home draw deeply (and without apology) from their cultural roots; they do not shy away from the narrative quality of art and the meaning of the work. They take pride in improvisation on African cultural forms and symbols. Yet, at the same time, they resist being placed in a box labeled "African artist," which denies their personal histories and the experience of living and working in an international world.
The four essays in this catalog address aspects of their dilemma and their efforts at self-definition and artistic fulfillment: Lizzetta La Falle-Collins, "A cultural confluence: African and Caribbean artists in Paris"; Simon Njami, "The resurgence of myth"; Jeff Donaldson, "Transafrican art: the Paris Connection"; and Judith Bettelheim, "Immigrations of ideas and people: whose reality now?" The eleven artists in the exhibition all reside in Paris. One work of each is illustrated, and artists' biographies are given. From Africa are Michaël Bethe-Selassie (Ethiopia), Fodé Camara (Senegal) and Ousseynou Sarr (Senegal).
Persons and Pictures: the Modernist Eye in Africa; [exhibition held at Newtown Galleries, September 27-November 10, 1995]. Newtown, Johannesburg: Newtown Galleries, c1995. 64pp. illus. (color). N7380.5.P47 1995 AFA. OCLC 38285276.
The exhibition "Persons and Pictures," curated by Ricky Burnett, is South Africa's contribution to Africa `95. It builds thematically around three British individuals each of whom has influenced modern African art, though in different ways and in different settings. Jonathan Kingdon taught at the Margaret Trowell School of Fine Art in Kampala in the heyday of the 1960s, a period already obscured by subsequent events in Uganda. Frank McEwen in Rhodesia is a story better known, and his legacy of the stone sculpture movement thrives in Zimbabwe today. Robert Loder is the guru and impresario of artists' workshops in southern Africa and beyond -- Thupelo (South Africa), Pachipamwe (Zimbabwe), Thapong (Botswana), Mbile (Zambia), Ujamaa (Mozambique), Thulipamwe (Namibia), Tenq (Sénégal), and Shave (England) -- all modeled on the Triangle Workshop in New York.
In addition to the artists who have come within the orbit of these individuals, there is a fourth leg to this exhibition. It features two artists: David Koloane of South Africa and Atta Kwami of Ghana. Catalog essays are by Ricky Burnett, Robert Loder, and South African art critic Ivor Powell.
Picton, John. "Desperately seeking Africa, New York, 1991," Oxford art journal (Oxford) 15 (2): 104-112, 1992. illus.
It is a commentary on the "primitive" state of scholarship on twentieth-century African art that we still use a term like "African art," implying a unified continent, artistically speaking, rather than "a very big place with a multitude of histories" (page 104). Yet that is the current usage, and it appears as unshakable as the concept "traditional." But ultimately, as more information about twentieth-century African artists is known, this paradigm which contrasts "traditional/tribal/authentic" and "contemporary/derivative" becomes increasingly simplistic and collapses of its own weight. And good riddance, says John Picton.
The categories set up by Africa explores -- Traditional, New Functional, Urban, International and "Extinct" -- are called into question on the grounds of fuzziness of concept and permeability of boundaries. Not only are the categories problematic, but the assignment of works of art to them appears equally arbitrary (and weighted in this exhibition toward urban signpainters for some unexplained reason). Better to resist the urge to categorize and look at what's out there. Picton closes with a cautionary note using the example of sculptor Lamidi Fakeye, who through his training and career falls into each category.
Salon Africain des Arts Plastiques: Abidjan Biennale 93, 24 novembre-8 décembre 1993. Abidjan: Ministère de la Culture, République de la Côte d'Ivoire, 1993. 60pp. illus. (color). qN7399.I8S17 1993 AFA. OCLC 30839151.
Les Grapholics, the first biennale in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, showcases artists from the continent of Africa and the Diaspora. Most of the one hundred participants in 1993 were from francophone West Africa, not surprisingly, but other countries had a few entrants. One work is illustrated for each artist. Three Ivoirien artists were given solo exhibitions: the late Christian Lattier, the late Charles Combes, and Frédéric Bruly Bouabré.
Seven stories about modern art in Africa: an exhibition / organized by the Whitechapel Art Gallery; concept and general edition, Clémentine Deliss. Paris; New York: Flammarion, c1995. 319pp. : illus. (pt. color), map. Notes: Catalog of the international exhibition held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, Malmo Konsthall, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (Soho), New York, Sept. 27, 1995Sept. 1996. Includes bibliographical references. (pp. 301311). N7380.5.S49 1995 AFA. OCLC 33663281.
Seven stories about modern art in Africa -- a pathbreaking exhibition to open at London's Whitechapel Gallery in September 1995 -- invites seven curators to tell seven stories about art in Africa today. In individual installations presenting works and their key influences, modern art in Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa, the Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya is examined by an artist or historian closely associated with each movement.
The introductions to each section discuss the dynamic curatorial approach and provide a contextual overview of the artist and intellectual in Africa. Then, the co-curators examine themes such as Islamic influence in the Sudan, reaction against colonialism in Nigeria, theater's role in Senegalese art, experiences of war and dictatorship in Ugandan work, and narratives of liberation and unity in South Africa. Myths such as the isolation of the African artist are explored by citing those who studied in Europe and the influence of foreign artists and teachers. A "Recollections" section follows, with essays, interviews, and criticism by leading intellectuals. Finally, a documentary section provides biographies, a bibliography, and listing of art schools, collections, major movements and seminal exhibitions.
Reviewed by Philip L. Ravenhill in African arts (Los Angeles) 29 (3): 15-16, 18-19, summer 1996.
Exhibition reviewed by Okwui Enwezor, "Occupied territories: power, access, and African art," Frieze: contemporary art and culture (London) no. 26: 36-41, January-February 1996; by Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie, "Exhibiting Africa: curatorial attitudes and the politics of representation in `Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa,'" African arts (Los Angeles) 30 (1): 10, 12, 83-84, winter 1997.
Vogel, Susan assisted by Ima Ebong. Africa explores: 20th century African art; [exhibition at the Center for African Art and the New Museum for Contemporary Art, New York, May 16-August 1991]. New York: Center for African Art; Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1991. 294pp. illus. (pt. color), bibliog. (pp. 288-294). qN7391.65.V63 1991X AFA. OCLC 22909235.
Following closely on the trail of the controversial 1989 "Magiciens de la Terre" exhibition (and borrowing three of the same artists), "Africa Explores" had an even grander design -- the whole of twentieth-century art of Africa -- and was no less controversial an exhibition. Widely discussed and roundly criticized, "Africa Explores" was a fearless, yet overly ambitious, attempt to define what contemporary African art is all about. The organizing principle set up by Vogel posited five categories ("strains") to define African art production in this century: Traditional, New Functional, Urban, International, and "Extinct." These are not meant to be rigid categories, but are proposed as a framework to begin to analyze contemporary arts.
The exhibition was ramshackle and confusing. Similarly, the catalog narrative is sweeping and generalizing, though particular artists or genres are brought in to illustrate certain points. Western and Central Africa are emphasized. Each of the five categories is dealt with in a separate chapter. Additional chapters elaborate specific art forms or schools. Dogon masking, painting in Congo (Democratic Republic), the "École de Dakar," and Afrokitsch, among them. The works in the exhibition are all illustrated, along with many others which are discussed in the text.
Reviewed by Olu Oguibe in African arts (Los Angeles) 26 (1): 16-22, January 1993; by Francesco Pellizzi in African arts (Los Angeles) 26 (1): 22-29, 95, January 1993; by Robert Farris Thompson, "Afro-modernism," Artforum (New York) 30: 91-94, September 1991; by Claudie Haxaire in Cahiers d'etudes africaines (Paris) 32 (2) no. 126: 355-359, 1992; by Dennis Duerden, "African art as `the other,'" West Africa (London) no. 4014: 1544-1545, September 5-11, 1994; by A. Gordon in Artweek (San Jose, CA) 22: 13, November 21, 1991; by G. Crisp in Arts review (London) 44: 23, February 1992; by G. Denson in Flash art (Milan) 160: 134, October 1991; by Russell T. Clement in Library journal (New York) 116 (16): 100, October 1, 1991; by G. A. Anderson in Choice (Middletown, CT) 29 (5): 730, January 1992. See also Sidney Littlefield Kasfir's response to Oguibe's and Pellizzi's reviews: "On Africa Explores," African arts (Los Angeles) 26 (3): 16, 18, July 1993.
Exhibition reviewed at the time of the New York opening by Michael Brenson, "Africans explore their own evolving cultures," New York times (New York) May 17, 1991; by Kay Larson, "Continental divide," New York (New York) June 3, 1991, pp. 59-60; by Holland Cotter, "Under African eyes," Art in America (New York) 79 (10): 104-111, October 1991; by Jacques Soulillou, "Art exhibition or collectors' cabinet?: `Africa Explores; 20th century African art'" Revue noire (Paris) no. 2: 54-55, September 1991; by Jack Flam in African arts (Los Angeles) 25 (2): 88-90, April 1992; by Maude S. Wahlman in Museum anthropology (Washington, DC) 15 (4): 30-31, 1991.
The installation at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, was reviewed by Eric Gibson, "Corcoran exhibit presents an update on African art," Washington times (Washington, DC) February 21, 1993. The installation at the Tate Gallery in Liverpool, England, was reviewed by James Hall, "Altering the image of art out of Africa," Manchester guardian weekly (Manchester) 150 (26): 27, June 26, 1994; by John Picton, "Unmasking Africa," Tate: the art magazine (Liverpool) 3: 48-51, summer 1994; by Lynne MacRitchie in Art monthly (London) July-August 1994, pp. 34-35; by Meschack Asare, "Twentieth century African art," West Africa (London) no. 4014: 1542-1543, September 5-11, 1994. A French review appeared by Dominique Blanc, "L'Afrique explore," Connaissance des arts (Paris) no. 503: 56-61, février 1994.
The exhibition was later critiqued at greater length by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir, "Taste and distaste: the canon of new African art," Transition (New York) 57: 52-70, 1992; by John Picton, "In vogue, or the flavour of the month: the new way to wear black," Third text (London) 23: 89-98, summer 1993; by Ruud Teggelaar, "Africa Explores, het postmodernisme en de kritiek," Kunstlicht (Amsterdam) 13 (3-4): 34-37, 1992; by Lize van Robbroek in De arte (Pretoria) 50: 66-69, November 1994; by Flora E. S. Kaplan, "Exhibitions as communicative media," pp. 37-58 [see especially pp. 52-56] in: Museum, media, message / edited by Eilean Hooper-Greenhill (London: Routledge, 1994); by Kathrin Meier-Rust, "Forscht Afrika? Kritik der Wanderausstellung 'Africa Explores: 20th Century African Art' (New York, 1991)," Kunstforum international (Mainz, Germany) Bd. 122, 1993, pp. 219-227.. See also John Picton.
See also an interview with Susan Vogel about "Africa Explores" by Sandra Federici in Africa e Mediterraneo: cultura e società (Bologne) 1 (6) no. 55, agosto 2006, pages 30-33.
Vogel, Susan. "International art: the official story," pp. 176-197. In: Africa explores: 20th century African art. New York: Center for African Art; Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1991. illus. (pt. color), notes. qN7391.65.V63 1991X AFA. OCLC 22909235.
International art, the most contentious of Vogel's five strains of contemporary African art, expresses an ideology of nationalism (rather than ethnicity), of Negritude, of social consciousness, or simply the freedom of the individual artist. This freedom includes the right to choose materials and media. Many artists turn to indigenous themes, but with a sophistication and an awareness of international trends. Choices are deliberate and self-conscious. Many (but not all) are educated and have trained at art schools. They are "international" in outlook and orientation. To question their "African-ness" is to misunderstand this group of artists. European mentors and teachers have played important parts in encouraging International artists, although in retrospect, much of this nurturing appears restrictive and cosseting.
International art is concerned more with high-minded, idealized subjects and has been largely free of trivial, mundane or even personal content. International artists are aligned with the official, elite establishment; they participate in the exhibition-art gallery circuit; their patronage comes mainly from foreigners; art criticism is virtually non-existent. They are removed from contact with Western avant-garde artists, or rather, are preoccupied with their own collective issues in their own world.